Advice For Martha

If Martha Stewart sees jail time (a trial date was set last week), she'll likely be sent to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Conn., one of the minimum-security "prison camps," nicknamed "Club Fed." In 1988 former Wall Street Journal reporter R. Foster Winans spent seven months there for insider trading. Now a writer and lecturer, he shared his institutional knowledge with NEWSWEEK's Daniel McGinn:

How many stars do you give it?

It isn't a club. It's like a military barracks--bunk beds, 70 or 80 to a room. It's just unbelievably boring. Most people there have nothing to do with white-collar crime. There was one guy there for pissing in a mailbox, which is a federal crime.

Is it worse than, say, a Motel 6?

There's only one TV. Making a phone call is a hassle: you have to wait in line, you only get 15 minutes and every call is recorded. But if you have money, you can hire another inmate to make your bed or do your laundry. You pay them in quarters or cigarettes.

Should Martha get a kitchen job?

It's not a very good assignment. It's very hot in the summer, and you're heavily supervised. The really good jobs are the ones where you're doing physical work. The guards like that. I mopped the main hallway of the prison. I'd get little privileges, like getting to go to meals ahead of everyone else, before the good food ran out.

Good food?

They had a pretty good salad bar. And the kosher food was the best--it was prepared somewhere else, so you knew it was clean. People would say they were Jewish just to get the kosher food. Fridays they'd make fish and the whole place would stink of low tide. Don't eat the fish.

What are the holidays like?

I remember a long weekend--Memorial Day or Labor Day. The inmates made suntan lotion out of Pepsi and baby oil. They all went out on the lawn with towels and radios, sitting around, working on their tans. It was like a beach party, except with all guys. Every once in a while somebody would steal fruit, put it in a pitcher with water and sugar, then stick it in the ceiling to let it cook to make "hooch."

Can Martha's dogs come visit?

No. Even having your family visit is kind of uncomfortable. There's a lot of anticipation about a visit [and] this incredibly depressing moment when they leave. It's almost like going into jail all over again.

How hard is it to escape?

One guy did it while I was there. He was an older guy. He'd go jogging every morning to get in shape. He waited until a visiting day, when the routine was a little different so people wouldn't notice he was gone. He was never seen or heard from again.